One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

D: Milos Forman
United Artists/Fantasy (Saul Zaentz & Michael Douglas)
US 1975
134 mins


W: Lawrence Hauben & Bo Goldman [based on the novel by Ken Kesey]
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Richard Chew, Lynzee Klingman & Sheldon Kahn
Mus: Jack Nitzsche

Jack Nicholson (Randall Patrick McMurphy), Louise Fletcher (Nurse Mildred Ratched), William Redfield (Harding), Michael Berryman (Ellis), Brad Dourif (Billy Bibbit), Will Sampson (Chief), Scatman Crothers (Turkle)

Based on Ken Kesey's novel, the film production rights were brought by veteran actor Kirk Douglas and sat in Hollywood limbo for over a decade until they were passed down to his son, Michael. Enlisting the help of producer Saul Zaentz, filming eventually begun in the mid-1970's and the finished product became one of the classic films not only of the decade, but all time, featuring a brilliant ensemble of performances which helped it win the "Big 5" Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress & Screenplay).

Jack Nicholson fits the beguiling character of Randall P. McMurphy like a glove, a charismatic rebel who feigns insanity so he can force a move from prison to a mental asylum in the hope that his sentence will be more lenient. 

During his time in hospital, he enlists the help of his fellow patients in stirring up trouble against the authorities, personified by the iron-fisted, dictatorial chief nurse, Mildred Ratched.

The material is tastefully handled by director Milos Forman, whose eye for camera makes the story feel like a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the on-goings inside a real-life mental asylum, rather than a fictional drama, and though the story turns rather downbeat in its final moments, the final scene is a startling and inspirational piece of movie magic.


Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest